Judge’s absence yesterday at the Federal High Court in Lagos stalled scheduled N1.23 billion alleged fraud trial of a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Maurice Iwu.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo was unavoidably absent as he was said to have been engaged on an official assignment.
The former INEC chair Prof. Iwu is facing three counts of alleged fraud and money laundering.
He was first arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on August 8 before Justice Chuka Obiozor, who granted him bail for N1 billion.
Following the transfer of the case to Justice Oweibo, the defendant was re-arraigned by the EFCC on October 24.
The ex-INEC boss pleaded not guilty
Justice Oweibo adjourned till yesterday for a trial to commence.
In the absence of the judge, parties were informed that the case had been adjourned till February 27, 2020.
The EFCC alleged that between December 2014 and March 27, 2015, Iwu “aided the concealment of N1.23 billion in the account of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria Limited with number 1018603119, domiciled in the United Bank for Africa (UBA)”.
The nati-graft agency said he “ought to have reasonably known that the N1.23 billion formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: fraud”.
Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the prosecuting attorney for the EFCC, told the court that the ex-INEC chairman was acting contrary to sections 18(a) and 15(2)(a) of the Money Laundering Act 2011 and could be punished under section 15(3) of the Act.
But Prof. Iwu pleaded not guilty.